J.J. Johnson Jazz Trombone Competition

sponsored by TBA

For trombonists ages 25 and under (birth date of January 1, 1999 or later)

First Prize – TBA

Nick Finzer , New York City based jazz trombonist and composer, invites trombonists to join this competition:

General Requirements

Recording Guidelines

  • Applicants must strictly follow the Recording Guidelines for the 2025 ITA Solo and Ensemble Competitions to avoid disqualification.

Competition Rules

  • Live collaboration with rhythm section is required
  • Required repertoire should be uploaded as three separate video files. The video must be shot from a single, uninterrupted camera angle. Accepted file formats include: MP4, MPEG, MPG, MOV, AVI, WMV, M4V, FLV, WEBM, M2V
  • No written signs, name tags or other written material is to be visible in the video.
  • All performers should be continuously visible in the submitted video, with the trombonist as the focal point.
  • Individual microphone placements for the trombonist and each rhythm section member are allowed.
  • No edits of either the audio or video may be made within each track.
  • The submitted files must not contain any identifying information. The video file should be named: “JohnsonTrack1.mp4”, “JohnsonTrack2.mp4”, and “JohnsonTrack3.mp4” (.mov, etc.)
  • An audible count-off is allowed for this competition, but any other spoken dialogue will violate the spoken dialogue rule and are grounds for disqualification. Caution members of the ensemble to avoid talking until the take has been completed. A good rule of thumb would be to hold silence for 5 seconds after any take, allowing for a clean submission.
  • Recordings must be made with a live rhythm section (minimum 2 members) in the key of the entrant’s choice. (see exception above)
  • Choruses must be improvised and not read.
  • Entrants must perform exclusively on the slide trombone (e.g. no valve trombone, bass trumpet, etc.)
  • It is the performer’s choice to play one or two choruses of the melody on each selection. The maximum number of choruses, including the melody, must not be exceeded.
  • Applicants are discouraged from including rhythm section solos on preliminary round recordings; any such solos will count against the maximum number of choruses allowed.
  • Recordings taken from a Jazz band performance are not allowed.
  • Past winners of the JJ Johnson Jazz Trombone Competition are not eligible in the 2025 JJ Johnson competition.

Repertoire Requirements

Preliminary and Final Round Repertoire:

  • Six to eight (6-8) choruses of a Blues (including the melody) OR Four to Five (4-5) choruses of a “rhythm changes” tune (examples: “I’ve Got Rhythm,” “Oleo,”or “Anthropology”)
  • Four to six (4–6) choruses of any composition (except a blues) composed by J.J. Johnson (including the melody).
  • Original Composition by the performer

*It is the performer’s choice to play one or two choruses of the melody on each selection. For the preliminary round, the maximum number of choruses, including the melody, must not be exceeded.

**Finalists will be required to present their final round program within a time limit and may deviate from the prescribed number of choruses required in the preliminary round recording.

Past Winners

J.J. Johnson/Rath

Year Winner School
2005 Roland Barber Manhattan School of Music
2006 Michael Dease Juilliard School of Music

ITA/Rath Previous Winners

Year Winner School
2007 Kevin Cerovich University of Missouri-Kansas City

J.J. Johnson Previous Winners

Year Winner School
2008 Joe McDonough Temple University
2009 Robbie Harvey Guildhall School of Music and Drama, London
2010 Nate Kimball University of Nevada-Las Vegas graduate
2011 Adam Machaskee Rutgers University
2012 Robinson Khoury CNSMD Lyon, France
2013 Javier Nero University of Miami
2014 Ido Meshulam Berklee College of Music (alumnus)
2015 Stepan Janousek Czech Republic (no school listed)
2016 Janning Trumann New York University
2017 Brendan Lanighan Eastman School of Music
2018 Drew Kilpela Michigan State University
2019 Ethan Cypress Eastman School of Music
2020 Co-Winner Joe Giordano Manhattan School of Music
2020 Co-Winner Dave Mosko Rutgers University
2020 Co-Winner DJ Rice Michigan State University
2021 Jack Courtright University of North Texas
2022 Spencer Merk no school affiliation
2023 Maarten Combrink Conservatorium van Amsterdam
2024 Jackson Churchill no school affiliation